Review: GoodSync – Backup and Sync Tool

Almost 3 years ago, Gizmos for Geeks reviewed GoodSync with the intent of using it to backup important data from a user’s desktop computer to USB thumb drives. Fast forward to today where hard drives have grown tremendously in size and so has data storage and you have an even tougher backup issue. For those of us who also perform a lot of work out of our own homes, backing up data is crucial and backing it up to offsite locations is just as important. I’ve personally decided to test using Amazon’s S3 service to backup my computer’s data and GoodSync has been recently updated to include S3 support. We put the latest version of GoodSync through its paces and in particular, focused on its S3 support.


After a quick install, your first action in GoodSync is to create a backup/sync job (you can have multiple). It’s useful to know what GoodSync can do:

  • Synchronization: keep 2 folders in sync with each other, so updates on either will be pushed to the other when the GoodSync job is run.
  • Backup: essentially 1-way Synchronization, where 1 folder is always receiving the files from the other
  • Chained Syncing: essentially propagating changes from folder to folder to folder.
  • Embedded Jobs: having multiple jobs that sync the same folder and/or subfolders.

One of the valuable features in GoodSync is the variety of file system sources and destinations that it can sync between:

  • folders on your Windows system (2000/XP/Vista/2003)
  • Windows folders on your network
  • FTP
  • SFTP (aka Secure FTP via SSH)
  • WebDAV
  • WinMobile (doesn’t require phone to be paired with the desktop PC)
  • Amazon S3

Syncing between 2 file systems was relatively simple: create a new ‘job’, and select the source and destination folders. However, I highly recommend that you don’t stop there. Read the manual, and understand the options completely before you finalize your jobs and use them repeatedly. For example, there is a distinct difference between syncing (2-way) and backing up (1-way only). You should also intentionally choose options such as whether or not to propagate deletions; whether to verify files on both sides or force a sync 1 way; whether to copy locked files and much more. Each job may have its own unique set of options.

Results:
I initially started out by quickly testing out the ‘basic’ file system support – Windows to Windows, FTP, SFTP then migrated to Amazon S3 testing. They all worked fine, although I did notice that I had entirely too many open ssh connections on my destination server. I may have not given it enough time to kill those connections off, but I would have liked an option to restrict the number of concurrent connections.

You can see from the screenshot that the interface is a standard split panel one that shows the files and folders being/to be synced and the real-time job log results below.

I advanced to testing the Amazon S3 connectivity as this is/was the main focus of this review. The job interface for adding your Amazon S3 account info is as simple as for the other file systems. I initially had an issue where it couldn’t browse the available folders I had, but an update to the latest version (v7.6.3) fixed that. I was disappointed that I couldn’t create an S3 bucket, but I can let that slide as it’s not an operation that you need to perform very often. (I used the S3 Fox Firefox extension to do it.)

As the saying goes, no news is good news, and I didn’t have any major issues to report. It just worked. My main issue is with the inability to select multiple folders and/or files for the source. I came up with a workaround which is to select the parent folder then exclude subfolders I don’t want to backup (by using the job’s Options).

Features I liked:

  • Ability to create multiple jobs
  • Powerful – there are many Options for backing up/syncing/testing differences
  • Scheduler so that I don’t need to manually kick off jobs (good when you have many jobs)
  • Amazon S3 support
  • If disconnected from the destination folder, it retries until re-connected.

Here are the features that I would like to see added to GoodSync:

  • [minor] Although there is a systray icon that becomes animated when there is a job in progress, I’d also like an animated graphic/icon in the application itself that indicates that it is working and what file is being currently transferred.
  • ability to create buckets in Amazon S3 (and not just folders)
  • bandwidth throttling, particularly when syncing for the first time
  • ability to select multiple different folders to backup/sync* Siber should put together some video tutorials.


Conclusion

Siber Systems’ GoodSync performs as advertised and does it well. However, there is a lot of power under the hood and with power comes complexity. It will take some investment in time to understand it so that you may use it properly. Backups are an often neglected yet necessary aspect to using computers, and using a solid product such as GoodSync will give you some peace of mind.

GoodSync is available in 2 versions: a free and a Pro version. The main difference is in the # of jobs and files that can be regularly synced. The free version is limited to 3 jobs and 100 files, which is quite small. However at only $30 for a Pro license, this price is well worth it. You can trial the Pro version for 30 days before it reverts to the free version.